But it’s not the book you book think.
People who like this blog would probably like to see a book about my ed reform tales and research, and I have actually started that book a few times. I even have a working title, something like, “The Attempted Hijacking of American Education: How I helped a little old lady cross the most powerful men in the world.” Assuming one day the corporate reform movement collapses, people will want to read a book about how that happened, and I suppose I could be proactive and be ready with a manuscript, but that’s not the way I work, I guess.
One thing readers of this blog probably don’t know about me is that writing a blog about education reform and using data and math to prove that people making big decisions that affect millions of students are liars is not something I really ‘like’ to do. I do it because, right now, I feel that I ‘have’ to. I’ve never been motivated by a cause like this before, and it is a strange experience for me, in that way.
If I could choose any job for myself, assuming I could support my family with it, I’d want to be a humorist. Of my three talents I’ve demonstrated over the years: math, teaching, and writing, I’d say that writing is the thing that I am best at. I’m a competent mathematician, but not great. I like to think that I’m a very good teacher. Certainly I have my strengths and weaknesses, but still I think I am good at it. But writing is something that I really feel I have a natural talent for, despite rarely reading the work of ‘master’ writers and having no formal training at it. I know little about grammar. Most of my sentences are run-ons, and I don’t care. When I took the GRE a few years back, I only scored in the 25th percentile, I think, on the essay. But some of my most proud accomplishments are the things I’ve written. I wrote two books about teaching and co-wrote a children’s book over the past fourteen years.
But ‘the book’ I always wanted to write was my memoir, a collection of humorous stories about my life and my family. David Sedaris, I suppose, is the current master of this type of book right now.
So after I got an agent for the children’s book, I sent her some samples of essays I’ve written about my life over the past twenty years and wanted to know if she could get me a book deal where I’d then write a bunch more. She passed. So I sulked for a while, this was about three years ago, and then I recently read something in The New York Times about self-publishing an eBook.
So I put together about 25 of these essays, separated them into three categories: 1) Life stories, which have some essays about some of my family members, and about relationships and fatherhood, 2) Teaching and the politics of education, with some of my writings about my teaching experience, but also some stuff about ed reform with two reprinted blog posts, and 3) From the archive with my college application essay, some humor columns I wrote in college, and a bizarre diary from when I was 11. My plan was to charge $1.99, but for whatever reason, the cheapest you are permitted to make it is $2.99, so that’s what this book costs.
Part of my motivation for doing this is that I have never really found a way to make much money from the thing that I believe is my most natural talent. My kids are 2 and 5 now, but before I know it they will be grown up and going off to college, I figure, so maybe this book of essays will bring in some money, and maybe people will like it so much that I’ll be able to use the sales statistics to get some kind of book deal for a longer book of this sort. We’ll see.
Anyway, if from reading my blog over the years you feel like you’ve gotten to know me and like me, maybe you will be willing to shell out three bucks, about ten cents an essay, for this book. If not, that’s fine too.
You can click here to get to the Amazon page for it.